It should not come as any surprise to Goans that our fishing trawlers are returning almost empty or with very little catch, pushing the prices of fish to the sky. The resources of fish in the sea are not infinite, if the rate of harvesting fish exceeds the natural rate of renewal. Overfishing has its inevitable consequences

Acquisition of land for developing special economic zones (SEZs) is a major cause for concern, says the Economic Survey for 2007-08, which was released yesterday by Finance Minister P Chidambaram. The Finance Ministry presents the Economic Survey in Parliament every year, just before the Union Budget. It is the ministry's view on the economic development of the country in the year gone by, and the prospects for the year ahead. The survey has also expressed "apprehension' about the possible "misuse of the (SEZ) scheme and relocation of existing industries into SEZs'. It says the Board of Approval (BoA) headed by Commerce Secretary G K Pillai, which approves SEZ proposals, would not give a go-ahead to SEZs that "have carried out or propose to carry out compulsory acquisition of land

SHACHI CHATURVEDI On January 31, in the community hall of South Goa’s famous Shantadurga temple a public hearing is convened to discuss the renewal of mining lease to

Every chair of the community hall of the Shree Shantadurga temple in South Goa

Chief Minister Digambar Kamat has reiterated that the State government does not want any SEZs in Goa including the three already notified ones. The SEZ Board of Approval at the Centre gave a fresh lease of life to the developers by deciding to seek reply from them as to why their projects shouldn't be scrapped in the light of the concerns raised by the Goa government and citizens' groups. Goa's Movement Against SEZs delegation led by convenor Matanhy Saldanha met the chief minister at his Altinho residence to clarify the government stand in the matter. "He (Kamat) has assured us that the government will not allow any SEZs in Goa,' Saldanha told Herald. It may be recalled that despite a strong pro-SEZ lobby in the cabinet, the chief minister on December 31 had taken a decision to scrap all SEZ projects in Goa and subsequently the decision was conveyed to the Centre. Since then however, the Centre has deferred taking any decision on SEZs in Goa until two days ago when BoA decided to consult the Goa government on the issue. The former Cortalim MLA was critical of the BoA, saying it has contradicted the statement of Commerce Ministry that SEZs would not be imposed on the State and more so when the Government does not want it. Yesterday, GMAS had warned that it would be forced to launch second stage of its agitation if the State Government failed to get all SEZs, including the three notified ones, cancelled immediately. "If BoA takes any decision contrary to the will of the people, GMAS will be forced to construe that the former (Board) and the Union Commerce Ministry are involved in underhand dealings in connivance with the State Government to approve SEZs,' Saldanha declared. CONFUSION: There appears to be some confusion over the number of SEZs quoted by BoA. Union ministry of Commerce had approved seven SEZs for Goa till December 2007 of which three were notified. But BoA now says that show cause notices would be sent to 12 SEZs. Officials here too wonder whether the figure quoted by BoA is correct and if so which are the ones as no communication had been received by the state government pertaining to more than seven. The 8 additional proposals which were forwarded to the Centre anyway are scrapped.

Goa's Movement Against SEZs Convenor Matanhy Saldanha Tuesday warned GMAS would be forced to launch second stage of its agitation if the State government failed to get all SEZs, including the three notified ones, cancelled immediately. In a statement issued today, Saldanha said the Board of Approval at the Centre had contradicted the statement of Commerce Ministry that SEZs would not be imposed on the State and more so when the Government does not want it. BoA recently issued show-cause notices to 12 SEZs asking why the approval granted to them should not be withdrawn stating that the move was in line with the principle of natural justice. At the same time the Board deferred the decision on de-notifying the three notified zones giving its promoters a new lease of life. The above moves of BoA have not gone well with GMAS whose Convenor charged the former of contradicting the public statement of Union Commerce Minister Kamal Nath who had said SEZs would not be imposed on the people of Goa if they don't want them. In the statement, Saldanha said the decision of BoA on 12 SEZs and the move seeking consultation with the State Government on three notified ones smacked of double standards. "If BoA takes any decision contrary to the will of the people, GMAS will be forced to construe that the former (Board) and the Union Commerce Ministry are involved in underhand dealings in connivance with the State Government to approve SEZs,' Saldanha declared. He, however, said GMAS was pleased with Cipla's plan to shift from Keri to some other place in the country. We request the promoters of other two notified SEZs to voluntarily leave Goa as the zones are shunned by Goans, he remarked. Meanwhile, the convenor said a meeting has been fixed on February 27, at 11.30 am to take up the subject.

The Centre has initiated talks with the Goa government regarding the de-notification of three special economic zones (SEZs) in the state, including the 123.2 hectare-Meditab Specialities SEZ planned by pharma major Cipla. The move follows the controversial decision of the state to scrap all SEZs within its territory following widespread public agitations against such tax-free enclaves. The developers of Meditab SEZ have already made investments of over Rs 130 crore in the project. Following a notification in April 2007, Meditab had also committed investments worth Rs 500 crore and imported machinery for its pharma plant. The law ministry has recommended addressing the issue of compensation to SEZ developers if the SEZs are de-notified. Besides Meditab SEZ, the other de-notified SEZs in the state are 20.36-hectare biotech SEZ by Penisula Pharma Research Centre and 105.91-hectare IT/ITeS SEZ by K Raheja Corp. The Centre has also issued show-cause notices to developers of 12 SEZs, which obtained formal and in-principle approvals, in the state, commerce secretary GK Pillai said here on Monday. Pillai heads the board of approval (BoA), the nodal body granting permission for establishing SEZs. "(As regards) all the formal and in-principle approval given to SEZs in Goa, the BoA will issue show-cause notices to them (developers) in the light of the recommendation of the state, following the principle of natural justice,' Pillai said. The developers will be asked why the permission granted to them should not be cancelled. On the 8 SEZ proposals that were forwarded by the state but yet to come before the BoA, Pillai said, the Centre has decided to treat them as "withdrawn'. The state had on December 31, 2007, asked the Centre to scrap all the SEZs citing representations, which said the zones would adversely affect tourism and environment. The state also said it does not have adequate water and electricity for such massive industrial activities. There was also criticism that SEZs will take away scarce land in the state. The Centre has indicated that the state government will have to compensate the developers of the SEZs for the investments made along with the interest amount to avoid litigation and further complications. Officials wonder how the land, acquired for the notified SEZs, would be returned to the original owners. At best, the government can deny the developers the status of SEZ, which entitles them for tax concessions. "Even if the SEZ status is removed, the units will remain in the domestic tariff area,' an official said.

Goenchea Ramponkarancho Ekvott today strongly demanded action from the government against what it called illegal fishing activities by outsiders in Goan territorial waters. A large delegation led by GRE called on Fisheries Minister Joaquim Alemao highlighting the illegalities of the

First reversal after last year's protests in the state. As many as eight Special Economic Zones (SEZs) proposals in Goa were scrapped at one stroke by the inter-ministerial Board of Approvals, which met here today. The Board also decided to ask 12 developers in the state why their zones should not be cancelled. This is the first incident of a reversal of a Central policy, following a strong anti-SEZ movement in Goa last year that had threatened to bring down the Digambar Kamat-led Congress government. SEZs are underwritten by a central law passed by Parliament in 2005 that permits special taxation and other fiscal benefits to the developers and the units inside these zones. The Goa government, on December 31, 2007, had recommended that the Centre scrap all the zones in the state following widespread public protests. Anti-SEZ protesters had argued that the zones will put extra pressure on the already fragile infrastructure in the state and lead to a dilution of the Goan identity. Their argument was that "outsiders' would flood Goa in search of SEZ jobs that the locals will not be able to fill. This cancellation is the first time in history that ethnic issues have led to reversal of central industrial policy. Formally approved zones that are facing withdrawal of status include Inox Mercantile Company's 48-hectare Biotech zone in Verna, Panchbhoomi Infrastructure Pvt Ltd's 18.5-hectare infotech zone in North Goa and a 48-hectare Infotech zone of Paradigm Logistics in Verna. "We are following the principle of natural justice and are sending showcause notices to 12 formally approved zones. Proposals that were sent by the state and were yet to be considered by the Board of Approvals will be treated as withdrawn,' said Commerce Secretary Gopal Krishna Pillai, who heads the board. Three controversial SEZs in Goa

GPCC President Francisco Sardinha has warned that BJP leader Manohar Parrikar will be solely responsible if any epidemic or disease spreads in the Capital city due to non-lifting of garbage on account of the ongoing strike by Corporation workers. Holding Parrikar responsible for the messy situation in Panjim, Sardinha reminded that the Corporation workers are led by Keshav Prabhu, who is a top functionary of the BJP. "If Parrikar has the will, he could have easily convinced Prabhu not to stop collecting garbage from the city', Sardinha said, adding "I am sure, the mess is being created at the instigation of Parrikar, who represents Panjim city'. The GPCC President warned Parrikar in the name of the citizens of Panjim and Goans in general, that he would be solely held responsible if the situation affects the tourism industry and an epidemic breaks out in the city. Sardinha hoped that better sense will prevail on Parrikar and requests Keshav to ask the workers to report for work and clean up the city, by keeping aside all political differences.

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